"Corn has a pleasant flavor and all of the people of this country live on it."—Christopher Columbus
Of all the new foodstuffs Columbus discovered when he found the New World, none has had the impact of corn. Just try to imagine a world of wheat chips, popped wheat, and wheat whiskey and you will see what we mean.
In addition to the five hundred industrial uses that corn now has, it relentlessly feeds America and the world in the form of corn flakes and grits, breads, muffins, puddings, pancakes, tortillas, chips, tamales, polenta, hominy for stewing, starch for coating and thickening, oil for cooking, syrup for sweetening, and whiskey for sipping.
But most important-especially if you have children to feed-corn is the most accessible of vegetables. Who can resist it? The mere thought of corn makes grumps smile, think of sunnier days, and take out the butter.
Following, then, are some ideas for cooking with America's sweetheart. Here is a light, sweet soup of summer corn, one with an Asian dash of sesame, and a fabulous Mexican fish chowder. Here is spicy popcorn to knock your socks off, warm polenta, grits, and creamed corn to offer solace when oatmeal just won't do, sturdy golden breads sprinkled with fresh herbs or enriched with buttermilk for brightening the breakfast table, and a few elegant salads (with ingredients such as smoked turkey and lobster) for those who must maintain their slender figures while they eat their corn too.
Of course there are a few sweets for the truly corn obsessed. In addition to the best corncakes and waffles ever to meet a bottle of maple syrup, candied corn reaches new heights in crepes, and in creme brulee dotted with caramelized kernels of young, sweet corn. Bright orange Halloween corn will never taste the same! Best wishes for a happy corn season!
We have developed such a passion for charred corn with chile, salt, and lime as it is eaten on the streets in Mexico that we may never boil corn cobs again. That is, until the next fourth of July.
Preheat grill and soak corn is cold water to cover, 30 minutes.
Shake off excess water and grill corn, turning frequently, until evenly charred, 20 minutes. Using a kitchen towel, pick up each ear of corn and pull back husks and silk, leaving them attached at the stem. Continue grilling, turning frequently, until evenly charred, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile melt about 1 tablespoon butter for each ear of corn. Season butter with chile, salt, and black pepper. Generously brush all over cobs and serve each with a wedge of lime. Leave husks attached for easy handling.
Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without the best stuffing of them all—corn bread.
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. sauté onion, celery, and garlic until soft, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted. Crumble in sausage meat and cook, breaking up lumps with wooden spoon, until just done. Season generously with salt and pepper, drain any excess fat, and transfer to mixing bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to sausage mixture and mix well. Spoon into turkey or small ovenproof casserole and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes at 425 degrees F., if baking alone.
Makes enough for one 12-pound turkey, or 6 servings.
Introduction and Recipes from:
The Totally Corn Cookbook
by Helene Siegel and Karen Gillingham
Illustrations by Dick Witt
Reprinted with permission.
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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